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10.06.2005

Jocelyn's Prayer

Here's another addition to the thoughts on prayer, this time from Jocelyn:
Saying "Can we change God" might be a little harsh or bold, for God is unchanging. However changing God's plans or his mind, yes.


Consider this passage from Celebration of Discipline:

"In our efforts to pray it is easy for us to be defeated right at the outset because we have been taught that everything in the universe is already set, and so things cannot be changed. And if things cannot be changed, why pray? We may gloomoly feel this way, but the Bible does not teach that. The Bible pray-ers prayed as if their prayers could and would make an objective difference. The apostle Paul glady announces that we are 'collaborers with God', that is, we are working with God to determine the outcome of events (1 Cor. 3:9). It is Stoicism that demands a closed universe not the Bible.

"Many people who emphasize acquiescence and resignation to the way things are as 'the will of God' are actually closer to Epictetus than to Christ. Moses prayed boldly because he believed his prayers could change things, even God's mind. In fact, the Bible stresses so forcefully the openess of our universe that, in an anthropomorphism hard for modern ears, it speaks of God constatnly changing his mind in accord with his unchanging love (see Exod 32:14, Jon. 3:10)

"... Perhaps the most astonishing characteristic of Jesus' praying is that when he prayed for others he never concluded by saying 'if it be thy will.' Nor did the apostles or prophets when they were praying for others. They obviously believed that that they knew what the will of God was before they prayed the prayer of faith. They were so immersed in the Holy Spirit that when they encountered a specific situation, they knew what should be done. Their praying was so positive that it often took the form of a direct authoritative command: 'Walk,' 'Be well,' 'Stand up.' I saw that when praying for others there was evidently no room for indecisive, tentative, half-hoping, 'if it be thy will' prayers.

"There is of course, a proper time and place to pray, 'if it be thy will.' ... In the prayer of guidance it is the greatest yearning of our hearts to know the will of God.... And then in the prayer of relinquishment, [when] we are committed to letting go..."
- Foster, p.35-37

Therefore, like he said, if we are so immersed in the Holy Spirit, we will know what the will or heart of God is. Then we will be able to pray to change things, to even remind God of his compassion and mercy, as Moses often did for the Isrealites, or pray for healing or deliverance for others... when we are working with God.
Can I throw one thing out before it's asked: no, I don't think Foster is talking about an "open theism", where God doesn't yet know the future or makes decisions that He has not already foreseen. Rather, I've said before that I think predestination, where there still some decisions to be made, and foreknowledge, where an infinite Someone already knows from the standpoint of eternity, are two sides of the same coin. I don't think it's contradictory. Rather, as things have unfolded, God's actions have certain human components where the right people at the right time have stood up and joined in that work - and God's been able to say, "I knew you'd do that"....

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